Tuesday, June 5

I'm Buying a New House

This is our new house!
Three months ago I updated my plans to include increasing recurring income by $2,300/month.  The first phase of the plan is in action:  we are moving to a new home.  This week I signed a contract on a brand new home on the other side of Tampa.  The house is about 40 miles from where we live now, but it's in a high-growth area where real estate is significantly less expensive.  My preference was to stay near our current home, but the few new houses we looked at cost nearly twice as much as the house I am going to buy. 

Our new home is in a master-planned community that features fiber optic Internet and is smart-home ready.  There is a beach entry pool and cabana as well as miles of walking trails.  The lot is 50% larger than the lots we looked at in other neighborhoods.  There are no houses directly behind the one I am buying.  Instead, there is a pond with a beautiful fountain.

On the surface this would not seem to be a frugal decision, but since 2006 I have built my real estate portfolio by moving into a new house every few years.  It's the way I've been growing my net worth.  But this time, instead of finding a long-term tenant, I will try AirBnB.  From the research that I've done, I am confident we can rent our current house on AirBnb for an amount that will more than cover the mortgage on the new house.

I should close on the new house by the end of July.  In the meantime, we are preparing our house for rental.  Such an exciting time!

Monday, June 4

My Frugal Miser - May Expenses: $2,524


Only one category concerns me in May:  spending on food.  We continually spend more than we should.  Last month I spent about $170 on groceries.  That's not bad.  What's bad is that I spent almost $300 eating out.  Part of this is due to the meeting jobs we worked in Orlando.  Often we are provided a breakfast and lunch during work, but we are on our own for dinner.  Since we were out of town, and a friend was with us, we spent more than I would back home.   We also ordered pizza twice, ate twice at Studio Movie Grill, and ate at a festival we attended.  Those were the more expensive meals.

Besides food, alcohol was on the expensive side.  I also bought tickets for two summer concerts.

May Expenses:  $2,524

$690 Auto ($612 for insurance, $36 for gas, $42 for service)
$0 Bank Fees
$76 Clothing
$0 Computer
$187 Entertainment (movies, gambling, alcohol, concert tickets) 
$464 Food
$53 Gifts Given
$79 Household/Housing/Home Repair
$0 Homeowner's Insurance (annual payment)
$28 Health and Dental Insurance (prepaid a portion of 2018 health insurance)
$0 Investment Expense
$167 Interest Expense*
$0 Medical/Dental
$0 Miscellaneous
$0 Personal Care
$0 Subscriptions
$0 Taxes
$27 Sharing Economy Expenses (tolls, car washes, etc.)
$105 Unreimbursed Employee Expenses
$304 Utilities
$344 Vacation

*Interest expense includes student loans and the loan on my car.  As both rates are below 2%, I am completely comfortable paying the interest each month and investing the money that I would otherwise use to pay off these loans.  

Friday, June 1

My Frugal Miser - May Income: $11,906


May was my best month ever.  It seemed so obvious to me that HMNY, the company that owns MoviePass, was not going to do well.  I had purchased put options, which are a bet on the shares of stock going down.  Boy, did they.  I closed out my options in May and made a huge profit.  In total, my brokerage account balance ballooned by $29,000.

My regular income was also healthy.  I received rent from all my properties.  I also had decent work income from Amazon, meeting jobs, and even a small amount of rideshare driving. 

May Income: $11,906

$61 Mystery Shopping
$2,409 Meeting Jobs
($99) Reimbursed Job Expenses
$98 Uber
$21 Lyft
$0 Postmates
$1,343 Amazon Deliveries
$8,041 Rental Income
$23 Interest Income
$10 Other Sources

Investment Accounts Change in Value:  $29,138

This was the best month I have had.  Even better is the fact this is a realized gain, as I closed out my HMNY put options.  

Notes:  
  • I don't include transactions in my retirement accounts.  This includes rental income, dividends and capital gains and losses.

Friday, May 25

Recipe for a Frugal Getaway

Burnt out from all work and no play?  Don't want to bust the budget?  Yes, and yes.  We'll have to delve into why I don't find fulfillment in my line of work later.  For now, let's talk medicine.

Travel is my elixir.  It's the escape I need to come back refreshed and ready for more.  But I hate spending tons of money unnecessarily.  We needed a quick, CHEAP getaway.  We decided on Philadelphia.


The Process

For the most part I was location-agnostic.  My needs were straightforward:  fly non-stop on the cheap for a quick, inexpensive trip.  I looked over my emails for deals on the discount airlines, including Spirit, Frontier and Allegiant.  I compared a few cities, including Richmond, Chattanooga and Philadelphia.  For whatever reason, flights to Philly were super-cheap and abundant.  Then I checked the weather to be sure nothing crazy was going on.  Then, before booking, I pulled up Expedia and played around with dates and airports to be sure I got the best deal.  Good thing I did:  flying out of Orlando, 90 miles away, saved us even more.  I settled on Spirit because I've fallen in love with their Big Front Seat.  Sure, it costs extra.  For $47 extra, we will travel in a first-class seat (just on the way there,  on the way back we will sit at the back of the plane).  Total roundtrip for two, including upgrading our seats:  $218.  Can you believe that?  The roundtrip ticket was $50 each (not a typo!).  Upgrading our seats cost more than the flight, but still well worth it.

Free Hotel

I use hotel-branded credit cards, and never intended to pay for our room.  That was part of the game:  sleep for free.  Hotels in Philadelphia tend to be expensive, even on weekends.  I compared Hilton, IHG and Choice Hotels websites and found an incredible deal:  10,000 points/night for a newer Cambria Suites in the heart of Philadelphia.  

Next Steps

Now that we have a flight and hotel, the real fun of planning our trip begins.  Philadelphia is a walk-able city, no need to rent a car.  I'll look into public transportation and rideshare to get around.  Then I'll research activities.  Most of the sites are super inexpensive.  Booking them online in advance saves even more money.  For example, I booked a guided tour of the Eastern State Penitentiary.  Booking online saves $2, plus I googled for a promo code and received another $5 off, which nearly halved the cost of admission.  The only other expense will be our food.  Might look online for deals on that, too.